Theory and Decision

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 53–77 | Cite as

Symbolic Products: Prestige, Pride and Identity Goods

  • Elias L. Khalil


The paper distinguishes between two kinds of products, `symbolic' and `substantive'. While substantive products confer welfare utility in the sense of pecuniary benefits, symbolic products accord self-regarding utility. Symbolic products enter the utility function in a way which differs from substantive ones. The paper distinguishes among three kinds of symbolic products and proposes that each has a distorted form. If symbolic products result from forward-looking evaluation, they act as `prestige goods' which please admiration or, when distorted, as `vanity goods' which satiate pretentiousness. When symbolic products originate from forward-looking action, they act as `pride goods' which satisfy respect or, when distorted, as `deference goods' which indulge pomposity. When symbolic products arise from backward-looking evaluation, they act as `identity goods' which enhance dignity or, when distorted, as `reification goods' which gratify reverence.

Substantive products Symbolic products Substantive utility Symbolic utility Selfhood Prestige and Vanity Pride and deference Identity and reification Time-frame context of assessment Normal tastes Distorted tastes 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elias L. Khalil
    • 1
  1. 1.ChicagoUSA

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